LOVERS OF classical music and ballet are in for a treat next week at Leisureland in Salthill when the Galway Youth Orchestra and the Regina Rogers School of Ballet come together for a special Christmas concert on Saturday December 18.
This concert will be the first occasion where these two ensembles of talented young performers have collaborated. However, as Regina Rogers reveals over an afternoon chat, it is something both the GYO and the Regina Rogers School of Ballet have wanted to do for a while.
“This idea has been simmering in my mind for well over 10 years but because of other projects it got put on the back burner,” she says. “Then during the summer I had a call from Galway Youth Orchestra’s Carmel Garrett asking could I provide some dancers for the children’s opera.
“We met up and I mentioned the idea to her and she said she had been thinking the same thing for years but we never got round to it because we had both been very busy in our own jobs.
“So we’ve been discussing it now for the past few months and we’re both very excited about it. It’s very challenging, certainly for me and the dancers because they have never danced with an orchestra before.
“It’s going to be something very different but I think equally it’s a super idea from the point of view of the students. Normally in the arts, everyone ploughs their own furrow, but here we have a meeting of minds. The orchestra students will be able to see the dancers and the dancers will be able to appreciate the work that goes into an orchestra.”
Carmel Garrett echoes Regina Rogers’ points about the benefit of the show for the participants, highlighting what it promises for the young musicians.
“I think it’s wonderful for the musicians to learn to collaborate with another art,” she says. “Some of the most wonderful classical music is written for dance so this is a great opportunity for the musicians to play the pieces in the setting for which they were originally intended.
“Collaboration is also a skill and an added discipline that the orchestra players will be learning because normally they would be playing on their own. We have had other collaborations, with choirs etc in the past, but this is the first time for nearly 20 years we’ve worked with dancers.”
Regina Rogers outlines what the dance programme will consist of.
“We’ll be doing Pachelbel’s Canon-Suite, the Can-Can from Orpheus and the Underworld, and several excerpts from The Nutcracker Suite, including ‘Dance Chinoise’, ‘Trepak’, and ‘Dance of the Mirlitons.’ It’ll be really colourful because the costumes are super.”
Carmel adds more detail about the concert.
“We have four orchestras, including a jazz orchestra,” she says. “It’s our senior orchestra that will perform with Regina’s School of Ballet and that will comprise the second half of the concert.
“Our three other orchestras will perform in the first part of the concert. We do two concerts a year that featured all our performers, we like them all to see each other so they can see the progression and appreciate each other’s music.
“An orchestra helps to develop young instrumentalists and one thing we definitely do is create audiences for the future. Even if these young musicians don’t go on to pursue a career in music being in the orchestra fosters a taste for music and for concerts that stays with them.”
Just as the Galway Youth Orchestra is making an important contribution to the appreciation of music in Galway, Regina Rogers and her school of ballet have done much to advance the cause of ballet in the west.
“I think now ballet is regarded with much more respect in Galway,” she opines. “Once the Perm State Ballet started to come here audiences realised this is a serious art form. Now, we have Monica Loughman’s Irish Youth Russian Ballet Company in Dublin and, she’s offering a fantastic opportunity to aspiring Irish dancers to move on.
“Three of my senior students successfully auditioned for Monica Loughman and they can now say ‘Maybe I can make a career out of this’ and that opportunity was never available before in the west of Ireland.
“I’ve also been establishing links with the Russian Academy of Ballet by getting the Russian Ballet Examination Syllabus introduced into our ballet school which is happening this year and that’s a big big first for ballet in the west of Ireland.”
Ballet aficionados will also be delighted to hear that Regina and Michael Diskin are in the midst of negotiations with the Perm State Ballet to arrange another visit to Galway by that august company.
In the meantime, audiences can look forward to what should be a memorable Christmas concert which will feature some 130 musicians and 25 dancers. Tickets are priced at €10/5 and are available on the door at Leisureland on the evening of the concert.